This is a question we all must answer, particularly when we’ve been diagnosed with something that is making us unwell. Yet despite elaborate diagnoses, many doctors have so narrowed their specialties that they sometimes overlook the obvious. They are inundated with new information every day. They are swamped with the most current discoveries in their field. They are seduced by the latest and greatest medicine or diagnostic test. They’re too often preoccupied with recording information on their laptops and have little time to address their patients’ often cogent insights (really?) and frequently intelligent questions (believe it or not!).
My blood pressure has been borderline high for a number of years. It runs in my family. I tried to avoid the path of medication. I tried exercise and diet, but it was a losing battle when my stress level went up the past couple of years in my transition into a new life. I knew I had to do something because higher B/P can do damage to a lot of internal systems without knowing it until it’s too late.
My internist tried a calcium blocker; first one, then another, then a third which kind of did the trick but left me with seriously swollen ankles and feet. I couldn’t walk right, my shoes didn’t fit. I felt lousy.
Dissatisfied with this internist, who typified the doctor I just described in my first paragraph, I changed back to one I had a couple of years ago (insurance had forced me to drop him for another at the time). That was the first smart thing I did. He prescribed a diuretic both to lower B/P and hopefully to quiet the swelling, which it did, but only partially. I still felt lousy, light-headed, and old.
I put up with it for a couple of weeks thinking that my body would adjust to the medicine. Then my sister yelled at me (lovingly) about telling the doctor NOW to change meds and get me off this coaster ride. She told me of her own pharmacological experiences and to stop thinking of myself as a science experiment. She urged me to listen to the way I felt. Good advice. Now I’m on a different class of meds that actually seem to be working without side-effects. And the swelling is gone.
The lesson for me: use my analytical brain less and listen more to how I actually feel. And don’t be afraid to email my doctor and tell him to change medications NOW! I need to trust more in myself concerning my health and wellbeing and less on objective science. When I’m my primary advocate and trust doctors only as much as they deserve it, then I can restore a measure of balance in my life and living. And I believe this principle applies to all areas of my life. How about you?